KM 31

KM 31


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

While kids in recent horror movies, tend to be of the solemn, Haley Joel Osment/Dakota Fanning sort, in Spanish and Latin American entries in the genre they are much more likely to be sinister and feral – having much more in common with J-horror. The one briefly glimpsed in Rigoberto Castaneda’s KM31 – as he is hit by a car in the opening segment – is no exception to the rule, and ensures the film grips from outset.

The car in question is being driven by Agata (Iliana Fox), but when she stops to see if the child is alive – at the 31 kilometre point on the road – she in turn is hit by a car and thrust into a coma. Her twin sister Catalina (Fox putting in double duty) senses the accident and, after visiting the hospital with boyfriend Omar (Raúl Méndez) and Agata’s boyfriend Nuño (Adrià Collado), she finds herself hearing her sister’s voice whispering in her head, calling for help.

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As Catalina and her pals become increasingly drawn to the mystery of the KM31 area of the road – an accident blackspot – and soon find there may be a supernatural reason for its death toll.

Castaneda insists that any similarity to J-horror is purely coincidental (see our interview), but whether by accident or design there is no denying that this film covers familiar ground. There are plenty of white noise, whispering voices and dripping sewers that hold echoes of classics such as Ring and The Grudge. Castaneda, however, certainly gives everything a Mexican twist, hanging the crux of the film on the Mexican legend of La Llorana (the crying woman) – a woman said to have drowned her children and ever after to be wailing for them.

His use of a dulled colour palette, gives everything a washed out, cold feel, so that you can almost feel the dripping down your neck and he cleverly uses flashes of movement at the periphery of the screen to create a feeling of dread, rather than having to rely on masses of special effects. When the horror bells and whistles finally appear, they are all the more effective because of his earlier restraint. The central ghost story, in fact, works very well, with the switch between sinister and mundane keeping the audience hooked. In terms of mood, it is masterful, however, the film falls down slightly due to a surfeit of subplots.

Too much is made of a simmering resentment between the twins and flashbacks to their childhood, although providing some sort of link to the Llorona myth, feel like unnecessary set dressing when the meat of the movie lies at the sinister spot by the woods and the rising jealousy between Nuño and Omar. Ultimately, Castaneda should be applauded for going out on a limb – this is the first horror film to be made in Mexico for 20 years – and for achieving as much as he does on a rock-bottom budget. It may not be a masterpiece, but it is solid and slick and augurs well for his future projects.

Reviewed on: 07 Dec 2007
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An accident blackspot holds a supernatural secret.
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Director: Rigoberto Castañeda

Writer: Rigoberto Castañeda

Starring: Iliana Fox, Adrià Collado, Raúl Méndez, Julián Álvarez, Carlos Aragon, Everardo Arzate, Giselle Audirac, Fernando Becerril, Mónica Bejarano, Izmir Gallardo, Cheli Godínez

Year: 2006

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Mexico, Spain


Frightfest 2007

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